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Drones in Visual Journalism

Democratizing the Sky: Drones in Visual Journalism

Democratizing the Sky: Drones in Visual Journalism

The New York Times staff photographer Josh Haner was an early adopter of drone photography. His earliest forays were with a $60 gadget that he maneuvered around his living room. Since then, he has aimed ever higher, doing videos and stills high above the Gobi Desert and the Marshall Islands. He has embraced the technology in ways that add a stunning dimension to his storytelling, while at the same time presenting unforeseen challenges. His interview with James Estrin has been edited for length and clarity.

Q. How does flying a drone add to your visual storytelling ability?

A. One of the first things that attracted me to drone photography and videography was the ability to easily photograph scenes that in the past would have cost us thousands of dollars. It democratized the skies.

That’s not to say that every assignment demands aerial photography, but it’s nice to be able to have it as a tool.

Q. Not only is it less expensive, it also gives a different view.

A. Movement becomes really key with drone video, and that’s very difficult to do with a helicopter at some altitudes. It’s a unique experience to be able to navigate like a bird.

I try not to use automated flight patterns because I feel that the rigidity of the curves that automation gives you isn’t very pleasing to the viewer. Continue reading about drones and journalism.

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